Home Secretary Priti Patel has promised to conduct a “thorough review” of police vetting in light of recent accusations against Metropolitan Police officers and the sentencing of Wayne Couzens.
Speaking at Thames Valley Police Training Centre in Reading, the minister also told the PA news agency that hiring more women is “important” for the future of police culture.
Couzens abducted, raped and murdered Sarah Everard while serving as an officer in the Met, and was sentenced to life in prison this year.
Pc Adam Zaman, from the same force, is also facing a rape charge, which he has denied.
More than half of the 20,000 police officers the Government pledged to recruit by 2023 have been hired, and Ms Patel spoke to recruits at the Reading training centre to mark the milestone.
When asked how the Home Office will ensure that another Wayne Couzens does not slip through the net amid the fast-paced hiring process, the Home Secretary said: “It’s right that we do all the checks and obviously our recruitment programme is absolutely doing all of that.”
She added: “I have commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire Rescue Services to provide a thorough, thorough review.
“And that will feed into my wider inquiry that I have announced.
“I’ve been very clear we’ll be making the terms of reference on that clear in due course because there’s a lot of work that’s taking place specifically in light of what’s happened.”
When asked whether she hoped hiring female officers would change the culture of policing, she said: “I think it’s important.
“I am very clear about this. The profile of our police – I feel very, very strongly that as we recruit 20,000 more police officers, we have 42% here in Thames Valley are women.
“We police by consent in the United Kingdom, it is important that our police officers represent the communities that they serve and that’s why more women, absolutely.”
The overall provisional headcount of officers in England and Wales is now 139,908, according to Home Office figures to the end of September.
This includes 11,053 hired as part of the 20,000 pledge, a quarterly report on the progress of the scheme said, suggesting forces have recruited 55% of the total target.
Chief inspector of constabulary Sir Thomas Winsor said the recruitment campaign was going “great guns” but warned “going that fast carries risk”, telling MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Committee: “If you’re going that fast in recruitment, there is a danger that the wrong people will get in.”